‘Limit use of fancy words on food labels’


New Delhi: Food manufacturers have been told to avoid using misleading “fancy adjectives” to describe the contents of their packs and brands names.

These words include labels such as “natural”, “fresh”, “pure”, “original”, “traditional”, “authentic”, “genuine”, and “real”, for the brand name or trademark which tends to mislead consumers, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) said.

“The meaning of a trade mark, brand name or fancy name containing adjectives such as “natural”, “fresh”, “pure”, “original”, “traditional”, “authentic”, “genuine”, “real”, appearing in the labelling, presentation or advertising of a food is such that it is likely to mislead the consumer as to the nature of the food,” the regulator said.

“In such cases a disclaimer shall be mentioned prominently on the front of pack of the label stating that – this is only a brand name or trademark, or fancy name and does not represent its true nature… provided that the font size of the above disclaimer shall not be less than 1.5 mm for principal display panel upto 100 cm2, not less than 2 mm for principal display panel between 100-200 cm2 and not less 3 mm in case of principal display panel above 200 cm2,” it added in gazette notification.

According to the regulator, these regulations may be called the Food Safety and Standards (Advertising and Claims) Second Amendment Regulations, 2022 which is aimed at creating fairness in claims and advertisements of food products and make food businesses accountable for such claims /advertisements so as to protect consumer interests.

“This comes after FSSAI regulated the packaged food items on front-of-package labeling (FoPL) to inform consumers which products contain excessive amounts of sugars, total fats, saturated fats, trans fats, and also the nature of food,” said an official aware of the matter.

He added that directions have also been given for nutrient claims, non-addiction claims, health claims etc.

“For instance, if nutrient content for energy or calorie is claimed to be low, then food establishments have to specify the conditions—not more than 40 kcal per 100 g for solids, or 20 kcal per 100 ml for liquids and similar, it nutrient content is medium or high; accordingly the conditions need to be specified,” said the official. Queries sent to the health ministry spokesperson did not elicit a response.

As per FSSAI, advertisements in respect of a food product that undermines the importance of healthy lifestyles or portrays the product as a complete replacement for a normal meal are not permitted. The food regulator also directed all food business establishments to submit any changes or clarification required in the words within 30 days for final approval from the authority.

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